Homemade plane solves problem for commuter sick of the drive to work

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Frantisek Hadrava thought driving to work for 14 minutes was too much, so he built a plane to cut the commute by half.

Mr Hadrava, a 45-year-old locksmith from the south-western Czech village of Zdikov, took about two years of his spare time to built his Vampira, an ultralight plane based on the US-design of light planes called Mini-Max.

The plane has an open cockpit, propeller powered by a 3-cylinder engine made by the Czech firm Verner, and maximum speed of 146kph. It cost about €3,700 (Dh15,301) to build, Mr Hadrava said.

By contrast, the US manufaturer Team Mini-Max, with production facilities in Australia and China, sells a range of designs for homebuild and its 1100R aircraft kit costs US$6,195, according to its website.

Early this morning, Mr Hadrava flew his usual path through the forested, hilly foothills of the Sumava mountains for his 6am shift at Drevostroj, a small factory in the town of Ckyne making machine tools for the forestry industry.

He lands on a meadow across the road from the factory. He then needs to push the plane across the road, leading to the German border, to a parking lot outside the factory.

“It takes me about 12 to 14 minutes by car,” Mr Hadrava said.

“By plane, it would take around 4 to 5 minutes if I flew directly, but I take a bit of a detour so that I don’t disturb people early in the morning. So it takes about 7 minutes.”

Mr Hadrava has also build a replica of the German World War One triplane Fokker Dr I, and his next plan is to construct another historical plane, the French Deperdussin.


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